A lot of Iowans are calling the Iowa Department of Revenue asking about the status of their tax return.
Victoria Daniels is spokewoman for the agency. “A lot is an understatement,” Daniels said, laughing. More than half as many income tax refunds have been issued this year in Iowa compared to last year at this time.
“It’s been crazy,” Daniels said. “People are upset, they’re frustrated, and sometimes they’re not very nice.” The issue isn’t unique to Iowa. Many states are warning that income tax refunds may take several months. The reason refunds are taking longer involves new protections against fraud.
“The incidents of tax refund fraud has just skyrocketed in the last five years or so,” Daniels said. “There’s been some (fraud), to some extent, for a long time, but just within the last five years, it’s just out of control.”
Another factor in the refund delay is a new federal law requiring the IRS to hold refunds until February 15 for people who claim certain tax credits. The federal agency conducts an additional review of those returns that are considered especially vulnerable to fraud. Daniels suggests taxpayers get used to waiting longer for their returns.
“We’ve been telling taxpayers to allow at least eight weeks before the even think about seeing a return show up,” Daniels said. And instead of calling the Iowa Department of Revenue to check on a return, Daniels wants Iowans to visit the agency’s website.
“We have an app on our website called Where’s My Refund? You just need your social security number, the amount of your return, and the tax year you filed for, and that will give you the status of your refund,” Daniels said. Iowa has issued just under $142 million in income tax refunds on 2016 returns as of March 24.
“Comparatively to last year, that’s about 58 percent less — both in terms of dollars and number of checks that have been issued,” Daniels said. The Iowa Department of Revenue received more than 10,000 fake tax returns for the 2015 filing season, according to Daniels.